Remote Recovery

Aiden F., from Phoenix, Arizona, shares his experience with the corona virus and remote recovery.

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On March 13th the White House declared a national emergency in response to the growing threat of the novel Coronavirus.

On March 14th, my cell phone exploded from a group text with heroin addicts from New York, Connecticut, Arizona, Georgia and Alabama discussing how and when to have our first fully remote H.A. meeting.

Over my 12 years of sobriety I’ve had the pleasure of serving at almost every level in HA’s structure, from home groups to World Conventions and everything in between. Never, I repeat NEVER have I witnessed such a rapid coming together of our fellowship. The idea was conceived, the schedules were coordinated, and the digital logistics came together all in the matter of an hour.

…this is NOT typical for 12 step fellowships 😉

The meeting was to be held at 6:00pm PST, 9:00pm EST. We decided to use ZOOM as our video conferencing tool (not a tool endorsement, just this member’s experience). And we whipped up a Big Book discussion format, sprinkling in some digital conferencing best-practices into the opening announcements.

Just before six I received an email from our digital logistics person with the video link, a conference phone number, and some additional meeting details (those same best practices).

At six, I clicked the link.

Now, if I told you that everything worked and went swimmingly without a hiccup, you might say to yourself, “Ya, cool. No big deal.” right?

Here’s the thing though: I’ve been a remote worker for the last 7 years of my career. I was also the first remote-in video conference guinea pig for HA World Services while serving as Treasurer and having just made the move from Arizona to California. Yes, the world has had this technology for a while… but in my experience, at least 50% of the time something majorly f***s up and there’s a tedious and painful troubleshooting session.

On this occasion, there was not a single flaw. No delay in execution. Entirely seamless.

Now, you may chalk it up to a skilled setup by an experienced individual (props. you know who you are). However, I’ve come to believe in the awesome power of synchronicity, especially during circumstances when our fellows are at greatest risk, and/or we as a fellowship are in a position of greatest assistance to them. This power was totally operating.

So, the meeting: It felt very normal, which made it abnormal. We read the usual readings, we asked if any member was new or celebrating a sobriety birthday, we even read the twelve traditions and mentioned how members could contribute to the 7th tradition digitally using credit/debit payment methods.

A member read aloud a section from the AA Big Book on page 25 from Chapter 2: There Is A Solution. We talked about pride. We talked about the 4th dimension. We talked about the hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it. But we remained focused on one fact: there IS a solution. That even if the world goes to sh*t, we don’t have to.

We still have the same simple set of spiritual tools and a fellowship that guarantees our safety and protection from drink and drug, provided we stick close to our higher power and perform well what we believe its work to be. I remember when I first got sober someone said to me: “Serenity is not manifesting calm when life is calm. Serenity is being calm amidst chaos. Serenity is how you live in the eye of the storm.”

Wherever you are, I hope you and yours are safe from the stormy chaos around you. But I would be remiss if I didn’t also encourage you to double down on your efforts to create a serene inner eye for the inner storm.

There may be uncertainty around what this coronavirus will or won’t do to our world, but I remain 100% certain that heroin WILL kill me. Even now I can feel my addiction processing and curating the external anxieties swirling around me, trying to find one that can exploit a weak spot in my spiritual armor. I know my disease is stronger and hungrier than ever…

But today, my spirit remains fed. My spiritual diet and practice may begin to look very different in the coming weeks and months, but it is my job to get creative and keep feeding my soul the good stuff: meetings, prayer, meditation, step-work, sponsorship, and weirdly disconnected yet still entirely effective digital fellowship.


– Aiden F.

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